This week’s class was very fun. We collaborated in making a systemic map, and then created something out of systemic thinking. Mary Claire and I, decided to create characters from “useless” objects, or trash. From then, we got the idea of how to collaborate with the kids at LCCS. Our idea would encompass a “character quest” in local, contaminated rivers. They would go in small groups of 2 or 3 to a river and pick up the most interesting trash pieces they find to make them characters for a play about taking care of the environment. I think this idea could be easily implemented and requires not much technology!


Ivy and I worked on creating a mascot for water named puddle. The goal is that through manifesting water into a character it makes the user more empathetic with it. We then used this character for a VR scenario to teach how to dispose of plastic ethically and empathetically. I think empathy and user behavior is a huge aspect of designing for systems and there is a lot further we could dig in that aspect.


Week 3 was research/prototyping week for us. I found the readings insightful in terms of behavioural change and systems thinking, even the extra reading filled with chemical formulas for how plastic is made was interesting (I ended up watching videos on the plastics and water cycles afterwards —links below—). After reading Leveraging Social Change, I called my sister, who is majoring in Behavioral Health and Psychology, and we discussed ways in which we could change a system to behave differently from their status quo into a long term benefit. The one factor we both came to conclusion was emotions–people need to feel that change is needed. It was a very abstract talk but the main takeaway I want to bring to Earth Day is the need to empathize with others on the subject of plastics and water.

Interesting informational videos I’ve found related to water, plastic, and the overall climate crisis, some things to think about:

Water Flint Michigan’s water crisis in 3min

Why a storm surge can be the deadliest part of a hurricane

H2O-NO! – Fresh Water Problems: Crash Course Kids

Plastics Crash Course on polymers

What will it take to get plastics out of the ocean?

Social Climate Change (aka we’re screwed but there may be hope for us after all…) Why humans are so bad at thinking about climate change

Going green shouldn’t be this hard

These are ideas that come to mind when thinking about the problems ahead, I’ll try to keep them open-ended, it would be interesting to run them through with the kids

Ideas generated by me and Angela, tell me what you think!!!

  • An interactive story following the life cycle of a microbead that gets eaten by a lobster and ends up in the body of a human
  • An infographic that reveals data (or government secrets) when you wear special glasses
  • A dome projection live stream videos/images of plastic lying around (look at Baykeeper website and social media)
  • Multiplayer AR game where players collaborate to prevent companies and corporations from throwing pieces of plastic at them
  • A book about a boy and water (kind of like The Giving Tree story)
  • An installation where you pick up a piece of wood (ipad) and when you pass a source of water (motion sensors), they play a sound. And we will call it Rain Dance.
  • A text-based game where the participants receive missions throughout the day related to water or plastic

Ivy: In this week, we move forward with our ideas about water-pollution and plastics based on our brainstorming and research in last two weeks. We divide into teams again and dig deeper about our character in this project. We are invader, intervener and mediator at the same time. Understanding our role in this project is really important. We also did the prototype again in a more realistic but still creative way. In our team(me and Joya), we made an interactive room and build in a cute character “puddle” for water. In the interactive room, visitor will play with the plastic bottles and find a right way to treat them correctly. Base on the technology aspect, I feel like this is totally possible. But I think we might need to do more user test, and figure out how to design the interaction to make it more effective.


I really enjoyed reading Meddows for this week. I think there is a lot elements and systems intertwined in our everyday lives that we take for granted, and that become invisible, so that we don’t question it. I appreciated the way Meadows breaks down the elements of simple systems such as drinking coffee to wake up. It allows for such systems, such as sitting in a classroom or writing a paper to be seen through a bigger picture. Thinking in systems can allow for the smallest system of personal interactions to be looked at, all the way up to the largest system the ‘bigger picture’ to be seen. It also allowed for the complexity of the system that is our class goal, of working with LCCS, the Baykeepers, and our demonstration at Liberty State Park to be seen, as well as personal implications, but also larger implications that are brought up in terms of education, environmental, political, and social issues.

Mary Claire

This week we talked a great deal about Seymour Papert and Donella Meadows. We created a systems map thinking for the issue we are trying to confront with the LCSS students. For me, it was very difficult because I wasn’t exactly sure about systems thinking. I apply more of my time working in organic style or collaborative style thinking. I was able to work with Julia who was able to delve right in, and it helped me a lot. We also worked on designing a prototype for Earth Day. I worked with Andres. We developed a whole cast of characters made out of trash. Our idea was originally a story line surrounding the characters, but then we decided it would be better to allow students to make their own characters and backstory surrounding trash. Our idea was to engage with kids with thinking in new ways about common objects.


Our muses this semester are Donella Meadows and Seymour Papert. Remember these two thinkers in the future as two names you remember from this elective. They are standard bearers. Papert in his brilliance as a mathematician and teacher and Meadows for her use of systems thinking and the environment. Let’s make sure that we carry their message forward to our LCCS students next week. I saw all of you enjoying your expressive quest for answers–think about how to convey this joy and expression to our collaborators in Jersey City.